Community groups and organisations across County Durham are being offered financial support to become Warm Spaces.

Durham County Council is working alongside the County Durham Community Foundation (the Foundation) to offer funding to the voluntary and community sector to create a network of places where people can go to safe, trusted spaces that happen to be warm.

The network aims to support residents through the winter following an increase in energy costs and the rising cost-of-living.

Alongside community groups and organisations, the authority’s 39 library buildings will also join the scheme.

Both the council and the Foundation are contributing to the funding, with a combined pot of £200,000 available to support organisations which can apply for a grant of up to £1,000 for their community warm space offer.

Cllr Alan Shield, Cabinet member for equality and inclusion, said: “We know that many of our residents are already feeling the pressure because of the rising cost of living. With many expected to struggle this winter, we want to do all we can to support the creation of warm spaces and ease the burden on anyone who is experiencing food and fuel poverty.

“Community groups and organisations are already doing a fantastic job in planning and setting up these Warm Spaces. Our funding will help to ensure as many residents as possible can benefit from these warm and safe environments. We would encourage groups to apply for a grant so we can work together for the benefit of our communities.”

The council is working with a range of other organisations on the initiative, including East Durham Trust, Durham Community Action and local church groups.

Each Warm Space will also be able to signpost those who need it to financial support and energy efficiency advice.

An online application form has been developed by the Foundation, which will carry out due diligence checks on all applicants. This is available at

Foundation chief executive, Michelle Cooper, said: “Communities are in great need, and we are pleased that we can support this fund by adding match funding thanks to our generous supporters.

“It is clear from the huge increase in applications to our Poverty Hurts Appeal that groups are doing all they can to keep people safe, feeling ok and warm against the odds. It’s our job to make sure they have the money to do so.”

Participants will need to sign up to a simple charter, setting out standards for the scheme, and will be asked to display a window poster to highlight their involvement.

Community groups and organisations that receive support will also be offered training on a range of topics, including basic mental health, food safety and safeguarding, with grants able to cover a range of expenses such as utility bills, volunteer expenses or staff time, equipment and furniture.

Once community Warm Spaces are confirmed, they will be added to Locate, an online directory allowing residents to connect with local services in their community. Key information including opening times, accessibility and any other facilities available, such as the offer of hot drinks or wi-fi, will be highlighted to ensure people can access their nearest space.

Organisations wishing to offer a Warm Space without accessing the additional funding can email [email protected] to sign up to the charter. Details of these will also be added to Locate.

Residents will be able to access the directory at

More information on Warm Spaces can also be found at

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